PIGS – A List of What-Not-to-Dos

As I write this, I’m absolutely delighted. By the time you read this blog, it will be July but I’m writing it in June. With the holiday and a family vacation, I’m working a bit ahead. So here it is, the end of June and I just finished my second PIGS project of the month. PIGS are Projects in Grocery Sacks and I have way too many of them. I’m determined to finish one a month but two is even better.

So here is my quilt, Wildflower Bouquet, my second June PIG.  It’s beautiful. The fabrics are from the Poppies collection by Maywood Studio.

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Wildflower Bouquet – quilted

Wildflower Bouquet was going to be a color option to go with the cover quilt on the April/May 2017 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts but we liked it so well that we wrote the pattern and made it into a kit. That issue is available at quiltandsewshop.com in both digital and hard copy versions. The kit is also available at quiltandsewshop.com.

I quilted Wildflower Bouquet on the Grace Q’nique 14+ longarm machine that we have in our sewing studio here at work.  We’ve had it since the first of the year and this is the fourth project that I’ve quilted on it. Each time I learn a few things. This time it was more than a few.

I decided to use a pantograph for the borders and a block pattern for the blocks. I placed the pantograph and the pattern on the frame and traced with a laser light. When using a pantograph, you are looking at the pantograph not the quilt. It proved to be quite a challenge for me.

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Swirly Gig Pantograph in Place


The pantograph is Swirly Gig by Judy Allen from Golden Threads.






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Paisley Flourish Pattern


The block pattern is Paisley Flourish from Quiltmaker’s Quilting Motifs Volume 7 available at quiltandsewshop.com.

I placed the pantograph where it belongs on the frame, set up the machine, turned on the laser light and I was off!




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Ready to Quilt a Side Border


I quilted the top border, all the blocks and then the bottom border. I wanted to use the pantograph on the side borders so I left them until the end.  Then I took the quilt out of the frame, turned it and pinned the top to the leader and fastened the quilt to the “belly bar” with Start-Right Quilt Clips by the Grace Company. The Quilt Clips worked great.





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Our Photographer Mellisa Ready to Take a Photo or Two

After I finished the first side border I told the rest of the team that I was experimenting with side borders and they should come check it out. They fell in love with the Quilt Clips and wanted photography for new products. So I took a little break and we set up for photography.




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An Oops on the Border

I’d quilted from edge to edge on the top and bottom borders. That made the side borders more difficult because again, I’m looking at the pantograph, not at the quilt. On the first side border, I ran over the top of the previous stitching.




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Better on the Second Border

I did a much better job on the second side border. I stopped sooner and went to the other side of the machine so I was looking at the quilt, not the pantograph and stitched a wide echo to fill the remaining space.




Here are the things I learned as I quilted Wildflower Bouquet.

  1. Super slow is probably not the best idea. It’s easier to get a pleasing curve when stitching a little faster. I missed the line more often but the finished stitching looked nicer.
  2. Stance is important. I was more comfortable with my feet 8-10” apart. Then I could shift from side to side as I traced over the design.
  3. Don’t try to look away from the pattern to check on the stitching while still moving the machine. (It should have been obvious to me, I know.)
  4. Don’t try to move your feet while still moving the machine. (It should have been obvious to me, I know.)
  5. About halfway through the first border, I decided for my first try at using a pantograph, simpler would have been better. We only had one pantograph in the building so I just decided to use it. I didn’t think about how complicated it was. (Should I repeat? It should have been obvious, I know.)
  6. Consider the width of the border and throat of machine when selecting pantograph. The one I used is 13” wide; the border on my quilt is 11¾”. That made things a little more complicated.
  7. Don’t stand on the power cord. The machine can’t move freely if you do. (Yep…it should have been obvious.)
  8. Because I was looking at the pantograph and not the quilt, I had to listen to the machine so I’d know when the bobbin ran out. If you concentrate, most of the time you’ll hear a slight difference. I only missed hearing it once. You can also be aware of the thread feeding off the cone. You’ll see the cone and thread peripherally. If the thread quits feeding steadily from the cone, your bobbin may have run out.
  9. When I quilted the first block, I assumed the quilt block was exactly square in the frame; I placed the pattern on the frame matching only one point on the pattern to the block. The quilting in that block is a little off. After that first block, I matched two points on each block.
  10. Plan both ends of side borders. I carefully placed the pantograph on the end where I was starting but didn’t do a good job on the other end on the first border.
  11. Because my border was narrower than the pantograph, I didn’t stitch the outside 1¾” of the pattern. It worked better for me when I still followed the direction of stitching even though I was leaving out part of the pattern.
  12. The most important thing I learned. Be sure it is a not-precious quilt. I thought when I started it would be okay to quilt this one as a learning-the-longarm quilt. It’s not awful but I have to admit I’m a little disappointed. The fabric is so beautiful, the pattern is so pretty, and my quilting is marginal. I’m okay with marginal quilting because I’m just learning; I just should have chosen the quilt more carefully.
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Wildflower Bouquet – detail

Here’s a close-up of some of my quilting.






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Wildflower Bouquet Pieced Back

And here is the pieced back of Wildflower Bouquet. I love the back as much as I love the front.

And I have one piece that I trimmed off of the backing when I was done quilting that is 12½” x 83”. I think there are pillows to match in my future.

Until next time, happy quilting.

This entry was posted in Lori Baker, McCall's Quick Quilts Issues, Quilting Inspiration, Staff Quilts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to PIGS – A List of What-Not-to-Dos

  1. Diana says:

    Your quilting is beautiful, not “marginal.” I enjoyed the post as I am a new longarm owner.

  2. Vivian says:

    Thanks for this one Lori! For those of us still “thinking about” the possibilities of a long arm, it helps to know that they are not “magic machines” — there is a learning curve and you need to pay just as much attention to what you’re doing as you do when you stitch on a sit down machine. Definitely ups my interest in taking a project in to try one out! A good heads up to choose which one carefully too.

  3. Chrys A. says:

    I loved reading this blog! I took a long arm quilting lesson at my favorite quilt fabric store and I was pretty intimidated by it all. I put together a total scrap quilt and it is definitely in the “not precious” group. I’ll eventually be giving it to a friend for their summer cabin in Maine. It will be my first actual long arm quilt. In the class I took, we practiced on a good size muslin “sandwich” to get the feel. I haven’t tried a pantograph. That’s a separate class for which you must supply a quilt to be quilted. Perhaps that would be a good one to take to the pantograph class. I will definitely take into account the size of the pantograph and will make sure I don’t step on the power cord! LOL

    Thanks again,

  4. Carrol says:

    You are very brave to try a pantograph for the first longarm experience. I have been doing free hand longarm quilting for a year and still do not have the courage to try a pantograph.. I know it will happen one day. I believe that each quilt is unique in pattern, color and stitching. Enjoy the process..

  5. Susan Couillard says:

    I have just bought a long arm and now that I have it ,I am really feeling intimidated.I am truly a “newbie “. Any helpful hints foe a long arm beginner will be tremendously appreciated.

  6. Holly Ross says:

    Thank you for the tips. Although my new machine is not set up for pantograms, I can purchase some extra equipment to make it so. I am pretty sure I will someday. Your tips are helpful anyway! I did my first quilting on a quilt I made for a fundraising auction. I think it is more arty than anything. There was a lot of spontaneity , ha, ha! I think the next few will be less likely to be for show. The good news is, the more we work at it, the better we will be!! Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!

  7. Pingback: Can I Read a New Book and Work on PIGS? | McCall's Quilting Blog

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